Mexico Tourist Documentation Requirements for Individuals and Vehicles

Travel in Mexican border states is unrestricted up to a point approximately 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the border. At that point, all major highways have a customs station where you can stop and obtain travel documentation and vehicle permits.

The type of visitor visa document needed to visit Sonora depends on where you plan to go, why you want to go there and how long you plan to stay. Mexico issues the following tourist and residency documentation for foreigners visiting the country:

  • Visitor Visa: For stays up to 180 days
  • Temporary Resident Visa: For stays that exceed 180 days and up to four years
  • Permanent Resident Visa: For permanent residency in Mexico, and
  • Non-ordinary Visa: For diplomats and official representatives

To check the latest entry documentation requirements for the country of Mexico, click here to see the information presented by the Mexican Consulate in Tucson.


If you plan to stay in Sonora for 72 hours or less on a tourism-related trip, you do not need to stop at the 21km customs station to obtain a tourist visa. We received this information from a phone call to the Mexican Consulate in Tucson in July 2016, please be aware that this can (and does) change, but even if you are required to get an FMT, you will not need to pay for stays of less than 72 hours.

Visitor Visa

If you will be traveling more that 21 kilometers south of the border and plan to stay for an indefinite amount of time (up to six months), you will need to stop at the 21-kilometer Mexican Customs station to complete a Foreign Citizens Tourist Visa (FMT).

Traveler’s tip: bring a pen, the Customs Office often will not have one.

The FMT form is simple and straightforward, and after completing it you must present it to a customs official along with a valid passport.

If you are planning to stay in Sonora for 72 hours or less, the FMT is issued free of charge.

If you will be staying in Sonora for a longer period of time (the FMT is issued for up to six months) the customs officer will provide you with a document to take to the nearby bank to pay for the visa (about $30).

Once the FMT form has been approved, the customs official will stamp the form and give you your portion of it. Be sure to stop by a Mexican Customs office before leaving Mexico to turn in the form.


If you are bringing your personal vehicle into Sonora from the United States and do not plan to travel south of Guaymas, you will not need a vehicle permit. However, you must be the registered owner of the vehicle, and of any vehicles in tow.

Be prepared to present the title to the vehicle and insurance forms at the border and at the 21-kilometer checkpoint. If the vehicle’s owner is a relative (parent, spouse, or sibling) and you have the same last name, in addition to the title, bring a permission letter that is signed by the owner and notarized.

If traveling out of the Free Trade Zone (south of Guaymas) you will need to obtain a Banjercito federal tourist vehicle permit. The official who issues the permit will attach a sticker to your windshield, which will be removed when you turn in your permit on your way out of Mexico.

If you are driving a rental vehicle, you may be asked by Mexican Customs officials to present the rental contract for the vehicle.

Other regulations regarding the temporary importation of vehicles into Sonora:

  • The vehicle must have current license plates
  • Vehicles and towed items that weigh more than 30 tons will require a permit
  • In addition to the main vehicle, you are allowed to bring up to three motorcycles or small boating craft.  If there are more than three people traveling together, the number of motorcycles/watercraft may be equal to the number of travelers.
  • Golf carts and similar small vehicles are not allowed into Sonora, since they are un-registered vehicles.

For more information about current individual and vehicular documentation requirements, please see the State of Sonora’s tourism website.